How to Apply Business Strategy Skills to Non-profit Management

In many ways running a non-profit isn’t that different to running a profit based business. There are a lot of crossover skills, and much that’s important to one is important to the other.

One such skill is in business strategy. Strategic planning is key to growing a business, but it’s also important to running a charity too. Your strategy is your plan for your future and deserves as much effort as a business would give.

Strategy skills for charity

The purpose of a charity is to raise money to aid a cause. An efficiently run charity that’s attractive to donations will be able to do this far more effectively. This is where having a proper strategic plan is so valuable.

Creating a business strategy involves sitting down and drawing up the business’s objectives. From there, you would explore the options available and plan out the tasks that you will complete.

While a business may look at seeking investment or developing their market, a charity may look at securing a grant or running a fundraiser. The thought behind the process is essentially the same. 

A lot of charities rely on grants to secure large parts of their funding. These grants don’t tend to go to weak, vague applications. The more specific and clearly planned your pitch, the better the chances you’ll succeed in securing the grant. 

Business strategy tools

Businesses use strategy tools to create their strategic plans. Many of these tools are viable for use in running a non-profit too. The following is an example tool to show how you can go about creating a useful strategy for your charity.

MOST Analysis is used to give your planning a defined process. It takes you from your overall end goal down to the actionable tasks you’ll be taking away.


A specific and measurable goal that your charity seeks to achieve. This wants to be deeper than improving an issue. What numerical change do you want to see in occurrence rates or how much do you want to raise?


What needs to happen for you to achieve your mission. If you’re combating a disease this could be increasing immunisation or developing a cure. Again, these should be specific and actionable. 


What options are available to complete your objectives? Are there schemes you could run to improve education, make access to care easier, campaigns to launch? This is about figuring out what you want to try.


What actionable tasks make up a strategy? Your tactics are jobs that can be taken away from the meeting and actively worked on. Deadlines should be set as part of your plan to keep momentum going. 

Bringing it together

When you have a defined strategic plan, you may find it easier to operate. It gives transparency in what you will do with donations and explains why you should receive funding.

After all, an application will be stronger if you can demonstrate why you want a grant and exactly how it fits into your plan. A demonstrable link to improving someone’s life will look better than a vague idea. 

Learning more business skills could bring a lot of value to your non-profit. If you want to see more about how you could improve your message, check out these brand strategy tools. Marketing is necessary no matter your purpose. 

Author bio

John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.

John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.